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Boccherini: String Quintets; Guitar Quintets / Biondi, Europa Galante

Boccherini: String & Guitar / Various
Release Date: 05/03/2011 
Label:  Virgin Classics   Catalog #: 96339   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Enrico CasazzaErnest BraucherMaurizio NaddeoFabio Biondi,   ... 
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante membersEuropa Galante
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

The Critics Rave!

"This is quite simply the most enjoyable recording of the music of Boccherini that I have ever heard. The playing is at once cultivated and fresh. Every opportunity is taken to bring out the many contrasts of texture, volume and articulation inherent in the music, and for once there is never any sense that the players find the music in any way routine or unimportant. As a result, neither does the listener, and I found that each time I put the disc on I was immediately hooked, wanting to know what came next and how the players would treat it."

-- John Sheppard, MusicWeb International, (Reviewing the reissue of disc 1 of this set on the Recommends label, catalog 743843.)
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Prolific composers tend to be devalued, Haydn and Mozart excepted of course. The thinking seems to be that if Vivaldi, Milhaud, Hovhaness, and (fill in the blanks with your own candidates) wrote that much, then they either repeated themselves ad infinitum or just spun notes to fill otherwise empty days. Even profligate melodists come under the same cloud; if Dvorák, for example, couldn't set pen to paper without creating a beautiful melody, it's taken as a sign of superficiality. Boccherini is a prime example of a prolific composer tarred by that bizarre brush, both his huge output and his melodic gifts being relegated to secondary status by the canon police. One hearing of this fabulous disc of three two-cello quintets from his Op. 25 set, drawn from the 100 or so quintets he wrote, should put such absurdities to rest.


The enormously skilled players from Europa Galante, one of the few period bands that combines musicality and authenticity, make these delightful works come to life with irresistible vivacity and drive. They grab you from the start--the energetic attacks in the first movement of Op. 25 No. 6 put you on notice that this won't be the sugar-coated Boccherini of yore. The equivalent movement of Op. 25 No. 4 is played with a deliciously witty swagger and perfect sense of timing, with neatly placed rubatos and transitions. These five players are wonderful in the slow movements too, capturing the singing line of No. 6's Largo cantabile, the ghostly qualities of No. 4's Larghetto, and the mystery of the opening Larghetto of No. 1. Throughout, they're alive to Boccherini's surprising twists and idiosyncratic rhythms, with first violinist and Europa Galante conductor Fabio Bondi's solo turns demonstrating why he's also the top period violinist of our day. As a filler, Virgin adds Boccherini's best-known work, the Menuetto from the Op. 11 No. 5 Quintet, fondly remembered as the piece Alec Guinness and his mob pretended to rehearse in the 1955 British comedy, The Ladykillers. The engineers match the musicians, providing sound that's present and natural--these wonderful players are in your room!
--Dan Davis, ClassicsToday.com, (Reviewing the earlier release of this reissue on Virgin Classics 45421)

Also from ClassicsToday.com:

This disc is another volley in Europa Galante's ongoing effort to convince the sometimes-dubious listening public that Boccherini's music truly is worth lingering over. And as with their previous entries in this exploration, the delightful results prove them right. The slightly acerbic wit and crisp crackle with which violinist Fabio Biondi and his band (including the superb guitarist Giangiacomo Pinardi) imbue these works makes them snap with energy--a far cry from a vision of Boccherini the Boring.


Sometimes that power is subtle, such as in the flirty little kicks with which these players dig into the bowing articulations of the D major Guitar Quintet's Allegro maestoso. Sometimes that might is more brazenly on show, such as in the fiery and lush Fandango movement that closes the same piece. (The sensual Spanish spirit of this Fandango is only enhanced by the addition of castanets, played by Mauro Occhoniero.)


The Guitar Quintet in C Major "La ritirata di Madrid" began its life as a transcribed piano quintet, to which Boccherini tacked on a finale from one of his cello quintets. (Okay, so maybe Boccherini didn't always strive for originality.) As the work's title suggests, this last movement is meant as a series of aural postcards of nighttime Madrid. Although some of the specific associations that the composer intended may be lost on a contemporary artist, the piece's lithe beauty still enchants, and the martial tone of the Finale section depicting a regiment of soldiers is majestic.


Rounding out this collection is a three-movement string quartet that is much more enigmatic and ambiguous in tone and mood, and the Europa Galante players suitably cast their playing in far darker colors. Yet their precision and graceful phrasing remain intact: just listen to the delicious dips they take when playing the descending seconds that open the first movement, or notice the carefully balanced sound they produce in the Adagio, or the nimble ease with which they dance through the concluding Minuetto. The sound is clear, crisp, and vivid. This is an excellent addition to the Biondi and Europa Galante discographies, and a real treat for chamber music aficionados.
--Anastasia Tsioulcas, ClassicsToday.com, (Reviewing the earlier release of this reissue on Virgin Classics 45607)

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Works on This Recording

1. Quintet for 2 Violins, Viola and 2 Cellos in E major, Op. 11 no 5/G 275: 3rd movement, Minuet in A by Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Enrico Casazza (Violin), Ernest Braucher (Viola), Maurizio Naddeo (Cello),
Fabio Biondi (Violin), Antonio Fantinuoli (Cello)
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante members
Period: Classical 
Written: 1771; Spain 
Length: 3 Minutes 40 Secs. 
2. Quintet for 2 Violins, Viola and 2 Cellos in D minor, Op. 25 no 1/G 295 by Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Enrico Casazza (Violin), Fabio Biondi (Violin), Ernest Braucher (Viola),
Maurizio Naddeo (Cello), Antonio Fantinuoli (Cello)
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante members
Period: Classical 
Written: 1778; Spain 
Length: 15 Minutes 47 Secs. 
3. Quintet for 2 Violins, Viola and 2 Cellos in C major, Op. 25 no 4/G 298 by Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Fabio Biondi (Violin), Enrico Casazza (Violin), Ernest Braucher (Viola),
Maurizio Naddeo (Cello), Antonio Fantinuoli (Cello)
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante members
Period: Classical 
Written: 1778; Spain 
Length: 19 Minutes 44 Secs. 
4. Quintet for 2 Violins, Viola and 2 Cellos in A minor, Op. 25 no 6/G 300 by Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Ernest Braucher (Viola), Maurizio Naddeo (Cello), Antonio Fantinuoli (Cello),
Enrico Casazza (Violin), Fabio Biondi (Violin)
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante members
Period: Classical 
Written: 1778; Spain 
Length: 20 Minutes 20 Secs. 
5. Quintet for Guitar and Strings no 4 in D major, G 448 "Fandango" by Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Ernest Braucher (Viola), Maurizio Naddeo (Cello), Antonio Fantinuoli (Cello),
Enrico Casazza (Violin), Fabio Biondi (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante
Period: Classical 
Written: 1798; Spain 
6. Quintet for Guitar and Strings no 9 in C major, G 453 "La ritirada di Madrid" by Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Ernest Braucher (Viola), Maurizio Naddeo (Cello), Antonio Fantinuoli (Cello),
Enrico Casazza (Violin), Fabio Biondi (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante
Period: Classical 
Written: 1798; Spain 
7. Quartet for Strings in G minor, Op. 24 no 6/G 194 by Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Ernest Braucher (Viola), Maurizio Naddeo (Cello), Antonio Fantinuoli (Cello),
Enrico Casazza (Violin), Fabio Biondi (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante
Period: Classical 
Written: 1776-1778; Spain 
8. Quintet for Guitar and Strings no 4 in D major, G 448 "Fandango": Fandango by Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Ernest Braucher (Viola), Maurizio Naddeo (Cello), Antonio Fantinuoli (Cello),
Enrico Casazza (Violin), Fabio Biondi (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante
Period: Classical 
Written: 1798; Spain 

Sound Samples

String Quintet in A minor Op. 25 No. 6 (G300): I. Allegro non molto
String Quintet in A minor Op. 25 No. 6 (G300): II. Minuetto
String Quintet in A minor Op. 25 No. 6 (G300): III. Largo cantabile
String Quintet in A minor Op. 25 No. 6 (G300): IV. Finale : Allegro giusto
String Quintet in C major Op. 25 No. 4 (G298): I. Allegro
String Quintet in C major Op. 25 No. 4 (G298): II. Larghetto
String Quintet in C major Op. 25 No. 4 (G298): III. Minuetto
String Quintet in C major Op. 25 No. 4 (G298): IV. Allegro
String Quintet in D minor Op. 25 No. 1 (G295): I. Larghetto
String Quintet in D minor Op. 25 No. 1 (G295): II. Allegro
String Quintet in D minor Op. 25 No. 1 (G295): III. Minuetto con moto
String Quintet in D minor Op. 25 No. 1 (G295): IV. Rondeau allegretto
String Quintet in E major Op. 11 No. 5 (G275): Minuetto in A
Quintetto IV in re maggiore g.448 <>: I.Pastorale
Quintetto IV in re maggiore g.448 <>: II.Allegro maestoso
Quintetto IV in re maggiore g.448 <>: III.Grave assai
Quintetto IV in re maggiore g.448 <>: IV.Fandango
Quartetto VI (Opera Prima, 1777) in sol minore: I.Allegro vivo assai
Quartetto VI (Opera Prima, 1777) in sol minore: II.Adagio
Quartetto VI (Opera Prima, 1777) in sol minore: III.Minuetto
Quintetto in do maggiore G.453 `La ritrata di Madrid` (Edizioni Suvini Zerboni, Milano): I.Allegro maestoso assai
Quintetto in do maggiore G.453 `La ritrata di Madrid` (Edizioni Suvini Zerboni, Milano): II.Adagio
Quintetto in do maggiore G.453 `La ritrata di Madrid` (Edizioni Suvini Zerboni, Milano): III.Allegretto
Quintetto in do maggiore G.453 `La ritrata di Madrid` (Edizioni Suvini Zerboni, Milano): IV.La ritrata di Madrid, Maestoso e lento - 12 variazioni

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